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Feyenoord hold off Marseille to reach Conference League final

MARSEILLE (AFP) – Feyenoord are through to their first European final in two decades after holding Marseille to a 0-0 draw in France on Thursday to win their Europa Conference League semi-final 3-2 on aggregate.

The Dutch club made good their victory in the first leg last week in Rotterdam to set up a clash with Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the inaugural final of the new third-tier European competition.

That match will be played on May 25 in the Albanian capital Tirana, 250 kilometres away from where Feyenoord began their campaign against Drita of Kosovo in the qualifying rounds last July.

“When you see where we have come from, how the season began, the way the team has progressed, it’s magnificent,” said Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kokcu.

“We will make history if we win.”

Marseille’s hopes of turning the tie around were dealt a huge blow when playmaker Dimitri Payet was forced off injured before half-time at the Velodrome.

Feyenoord’s Argentinian defender Marcos Senesi fights for the ball with Marseille’s Polish forward Arkadiusz Milik. PHOTO: AFP

The home side were deprived of a part of their support with the stadium closed at one end by UEFA as a punishment following the trouble that marred their win over Greek club PAOK in the quarter-finals.

They rarely really looked like scoring after losing Payet and they are left to focus on their quest to finish in the top three in Ligue 1 and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

“The match changed after Payet went off,” said Marseille coach
Jorge Sampaoli. “Without him we had to change our plans. I think the players did all they could.”

Feyenoord – who are third in the Dutch Eredivisie behind Ajax and PSV Eindhoven – failed to score in a game for the first time since January.

Yet they did not need to after a Cyriel Dessers double and a deflected Luis Sinisterra strike gave them victory in the first leg.

The final against Roma will be their 19th game in the competition this season and they will be aiming to win their fourth European trophy.

“I am not thinking about Mourinho or Roma yet but it will be a great final,” admitted Feyenoord coach Arne Slot.